Aural Sculptors - The Stranglers Live 1976 to the Present

Welcome to Aural Sculptors, a blog aimed at bringing the music of The Stranglers to as wide an audience as possible. Whilst all of the various members of the band that have passed through the ranks since 1974 are accomplished studio musicians, it is on stage where the band have for me had their biggest impact.

As a collector of their live recordings for many years I want to share some of the better quality material with other fans. By selecting the higher quality recordings I hope to present The Stranglers in the best possible light for the benefit of those less familiar with their material than the hardcore fan.

Needless to say, this site will steer well clear of any officially released material. As well as live gigs, I will post demos, radio interviews and anything else that I feel may be of interest.

In addition, occasionally I will post material by other bands, related or otherwise, that mean a lot to me.

Your comments and/or contributions are most welcome. Please email me at

Saturday 25 April 2015

The Damned 'The Captain's Last Stand' Brockwell Park 4th August 1984

I had this gig on tape for many years, but sadly it wore out. Luckily some kindly soul replaced it with a lossless copy that was also an upgrade on my old version.

The Greater London Council (G.L.C.) were the former administrative organisation in London. Led by Ken Livingstone, throughout the 1980's they were a constant thorn in the side of the Government of the day headed by one Margaret Thatcher. The two politicians were ideologically poles apart and there was certainly no love lost between them. Eventually, under Thatcher, the G.L.C. was abolished in March 2006.

During the 1980's under Livingstone, the Council hosted a series of free festivals that featured those bands of the day that sympathized with the Council's left wing policies.

This was just one such event.

Incidentally it was in 1984 that I along with two school friends won a public speaking competition on the topic of the arguments against the proposed abolition of the G.L.C. It was an inter-schools competition organised by The Rotary Club of Lewes. Little did we anticipate that the adjudicating rather conservative Rotarians would pick us above the others for the prize.

Back to the gig then, this was to be Captain Sensible's last gig with the band for a number of years, hence the 'Last Stand' reference in the bootleg LP's title.

A great set from a great band.



01. Introduction
02. Love Song
03. Wait For The Blackout
04. Thanks For The Night
05. Rat Rants
06. Disco Man
07. Stranger On The Town
08. Limit Club
09. Neat Neat Neat
10. Noise Noise Noise
11. Smash It Up
12. Looking At You
13. New Rose
14. Hippy Hippy Shake
15. Band Thanks
16. Anarchy In The UK
17. Love Song
18. Nasty

The Damned at Brockwell Park
4th August 1984

Winnepeg Playhouse 25th April 1983

An anniversary gig from 32 years ago when the band took Feline to the Canadians.



01. Intro
02. Nuclear Device
03. Toiler On The Sea
04. Ships That Pass In The Night
05. It’s A Small World
06. Just Like Nothing On Earth
07. No More Heroes
08. Who Wants The World
09. Never Say Goodbye
10. Baroque Bordello
11. Golden Brown
12. Midnight Summer Dream
13. European Female
14. Tramp
15. The Raven
16. Duchess
17. London Lady
18. Nubiles (Cocktail Version)
19. Genetix

Queen Margaret Union Glasgow University 12th February 1977

Here's a reasonably sounding recording of an early gig from Glasgow from February 1977. Amazingly this was the band's second gig in he city in a mere two months (having played Strathclyde University in mid December 1976). On this second occasion they were a late replacement for the Ian Gillan Band. As such there was a degree of hostility from the audience who had turned up expecting a night of heavy rock from the former Deep Purple front man, but instead got an hour of p*nk rock from a barely known band of hooligans! Apparently the evening ended with The Stranglers barricaded in the dressing room.

Unfortunately there is some hiss from my version during 'Rats Rally' and 'Hanging Around' is cut. Never the less it's well worth a listen.



01. (Get A) Grip (On Yourself)
02. Sometimes
03. Bitching
04. School Mam
05. Peasant In The Big Shitty
06. Straighten Out
07. Hanging Around
08. Peaches
09. Ugly
10. London Lady
11. Down In The Sewer

Sunday 19 April 2015

The Newtown Neurotics Dingwalls Camden April 1980

It's election year again and The Newtown Neurotics are still railing against bad politicians and bad politics. Here they are in a different era from this month 35 years ago and less than one year into Margaret Thatcher's administration (a period that would have such a powerful influence over the band's career throughout the 1980's).

A great sounding recording for it's age.


01. Oh No!
02. Licensing Hours
03. Ramones Medley
    - Oh Oh I Love Her So
    - Blitzkrieg Bop
04. Hypocrite
05. When The Oil Runs Out
06. You Said No
07. Bored Policemen
08. Peggy Sue
09. When I Need You
10. Mindless Violence
11. I Get On Your Nerves
12. No Sanctuary (Harlow)

Jerry Dammers - Mojo Magazine May 2015

This month's 'Mojo' magazine sees a brilliant feature interview with Jerry Dammers. The interview marks the release of remastered and expanded versions of 'Specials', 'More Specials' and 'In The Studio'.

Since it is The Specials that have given rise to this interview, Jerry very quickly gets drawn into discussion about his former band mates and the 'reunion' (here stated in inverted commas as Dammers contests the very notion The Specials' reunion).

To understand the issues that have seen The Specials lose two more original members is beyond me, but clearly many of the problems and personality clashes that caused the original bust up in 1981 remain to this day. It certainly does not seem to be the case that without the dominating personality of 'The General' all would go on to be harmonious in the post 2008 Specials camp. They fell out all by themselves!

Having been treated to some of the greatest gigs I have ever seen from The Specials minus 1, it would be wrong for me to say that they should not have embarked on this new adventure without Jerry Dammers, but now they need a rethink. First Neville threw in the towel citing a lack of understanding from his fellow musicians following a stroke suffered whilst on tour in the US and then Roddy buggered off. Inevitably the sound of the band has changed without these key contributors to that Specials sound.

It seems astounding to think that I can watch a line up featuring Horace, Brad, Lyn and Terry and come away feeling a bit deflated, but that is only as a result of seeing them back in 2009.

I thought that the band's last London gig at The Troxy would likely be their last, but I notice that they will be playing Kew this year.

I'm wondering now.

Blur Mr. Albarn's Combo

What with Blur being hot news once again on the back of the new album, 'The Magic Whip', here's some vintage Blur primarily from the 'Parklife' era back when Brit Pop was king.



01. She's So High
02. Popscene
03. Chemical World
04. Parklife
05. To The End
06. Bank Holiday
07. Jubilee
08. Girls & Boys
09. Badhead
10. Tracy Jacks
11. For Tomorrow (Extended)
12. Parklife
13. Top Man
14. Mr. Robinson's Quango
15. Charmless Man
16. It Could Be You
17. Stereotypes
18. Country House
19. The Universal

Tracks 1 & 2 are from Blur-ti-go promo CD
Track 3 live on Late Night with Conan O'Brien, 1993
Track 4 live on Simon Mayo, Aug 1994
Track 5 live at Glastonbury Festival, 1994
Tracks 6 & 12 live on Jools Holland Hootenanny, Dec 1994
Track 7 live on Top of the Pops, Feb 1995
Track 8 live on Nulle Part Ailleurs, 29 Aug 1994
Tracks 9-11 live at National Bowl, Milton Keynes, 29 Jul 1995
Tracks 13-19 live at BBC Radio Theatre, London, 7 Sep 1995

Jake Burns And The Big Wheel The Studio Bristol 12th February 1984

Here's a transfer I did some years ago from an old cassette. It is the only gig recording of Jake's post SLF outfit 'The Big Wheel' that I have come across which first saw Jake and drummer Steve Grantley sharing the stage. Therefore, I think that this is quite a rare and interesting recording. All the more so in that the short support set features two songs written and recorded by Jake, Dolphin Taylor and Bruce Foxton back in 1983 whilst the dust from the recent implosion of SLF was still settling. Those songs are:

  • Shake It Off (Burns/Taylor)
  • Not What We Were (Pro Patria Mori) (Burns/ Ogilvie)

These two songs finally saw the light of day on the low key Castle Communications CD single release of 'Harp' in 1994.

Here's what Mr Burns had to say about them on the sleeve notes.

'11 years seems a long time to wait to release a record after you've recorded it, but that's how long ago the B-side to this single was made. You see, Dolph and myself were without a band at this point, although we did have some tunes. What we needed was a bass player to complete our unit. Bruce was at a loose end, and through a series of phone calls by and through mutual friends, we all ended up in a studio in April/May 1983. (Well, we actually all ended up in 'The Cat and Helicopter' or whatever the pub was called down the road from the studio, but eventually we ended up in the studio). It was a brief collaboration, too many other offers were on the table at the time and these took precedence over this particular project. So, no hard feelings and everyone went on their way.

However, fate has a strange way of intervening in your life and 11 years later here we all are in the same band, albeit a different band musically to the one we envisioned in 1983. That is the main point to make about these tracks, they are NOT Stiff Little Fingers songs. But, I know from talking to many of you on the road etc.... that there is a considerable interest in 'what might have been'. So, here they are... two demos that were never meant to see the light of day outside of record company offices or our private collections.

I hope that they are as interesting as you thought they 'might have been'. Remember it was a long time ago!

Jake Burns'


01. Warsaw
02. Shake It Off
03. In The Company Of Strangers
04. On Fortune Street
05. Capital Lives
06. Innocent Man
07. Pick It Up
08. Trapped Inside
09. Pro Patria Mori
10. Here Comes That Song Again
11. Race You To The Grave

Jake Burns And The Big Wheel played support to The Alarm at this gig.

And while I am at it here's a new link to the Janice Long Session that they did from 16th April 1986.


01. She Grew Up
02. Breathless
03. Trapped Inside
04. Belfast 14

Saturday 18 April 2015

RESTORED LINK! - Espace Tony Garnier Lyon 18th April 1985

Here's a restored link for an anniversary gig from the European leg of the 'Aural Sculpture' tour.


Sunday 12 April 2015

XSLF 2015 Tour Dates

And talking of SLF, Henry Cluney and Jim Reilly's outfit, XSLF are touring extensively throughout 2015. Catch them if you can.

Stiff Little Fingers In Bed With Medinner Session Broadcast 29th April 1994

Jake Burns & Bruce Foxton
Stiff Little Fingers
In Bed With Medinner
29th April 1994

Here's another session from the late night comedy and music show 'In Bed With Medinner'. This session featured the brilliant 'Harp', Jake Burns's furious riposte to racist attitudes encountered by the immigrant Irish population in the east coast cities if the U.S.

As an aside I recall Gunta pointing out that at this point Jake could have been a body double for Lovejoy's assistant Eric Catchpole!

Chris Jury a.k.a. Lovejoy's Eric Catchpole

01. At The Edge
02. Harp
03. Alternative Ulster

Gary Numan In Bed With Medinner Session 1994 Broadcast 22nd April 1994

In the early to mid-90's comedian Bob Mills hosted an excellent late night sketch show that also showcased weekly a mix of new and old material from bands that saw their first taste of fame in the late '70's and early '80's (The Damned, SLF, Buzzcocks all featured).

In 1994 following the release of the return to form 'Sacrifice' album, Gary Numan started on the long haul back to critical acceptance and it was this kind of rare TV exposure that would have done much to bring Numan back to the attention of an audience who had probably last heard the name 10 years previously before his creative slide.


01. Cars
02. Scar
03. Are 'Friends' Electric?

NEW LINK: Hugh Cornwell Manchester and Bolton 6th September 1995;postID=6149201248473346852

Saturday 4 April 2015

The Roundhouse 6th March 2015

Originally appearing on Dime (and posted here with the blessing of the uploader (thanks Pennyghael)). March On advanced through London on 6th March.



01. Intro
02. Longships
03. The Raven
04. Straighten Out
05. (Get A) Grip (On Yourself)
06. I’ve Been Wild
07. Four Horsemen
08. The Man They Love To Hate
09. Relentless
10. Baroque Bordello
11. Golden Brown
12. Always The Sun
13. Genetix
14. Time To Die
15. Nice In Nice
16. Ice
17. I Feel Like A Wog
18. Skin Deep
19. Peaches
20. Time Was On My Side
21. Duchess
22. Lost Control
23. Curfew
24. Down In The Sewer
25. Encore Applause
26. Nice “N Sleazy
27. Hanging Around
28. Encore Applause
29. No More Heroes

On The March 2015

Now that the dust has settled after the recent tour, here are some of my thoughts for what they are worth.

Gigs at The Roundhouse, if nothing else, provide an excuse for a half day in the office which in turn provide the opportunity for a pre-gig meal and a few beers ahead of the main event. As you know so well, new set lists are a closely guarded secret within The Stranglers' camp until the first night. Now personally I am not one to go all out to avoid situations where set spoilers are likely to crop up and that is just as well as Pigeon revealed all (not in that way!) on social media within a few hours of the band leaving the stage in Brighton! Nevertheless, even with a full knowledge of the set list, just the anticipation of hearing these songs, some for the first time ever, was enough for me.

The first surprise was Walzinblack which had been given a military makeover completely in keeping with the March On theme (although Baz's grip on military terminology.... 'Company Halt!, Battalion Commence!' was never going to earn him his CSM stripes!). The band then launched themselves out of the blocks with the dream sequence of the 'Longships' to 'The Raven' segue. This admittedly was not as much of a surprise as it could have been by virtue of the fact that fans have been talking about such an opening for a number of years now. To my ears 'Longships' sounded a little clunky in London, but what the hell, this is what we wanted and this is what we got. A great start!

More surprises were to follow with the reintroduction of 'Nice In Nice'. As one of the songs from my earlier times with the band it was great to hear it again and perhaps a couple more songs from the mid-eighties period could be considered for next time... 'Dreamtime' itself would be great! Soon to follow were two gems on the bounce, none other than 'Four Horsemen' and 'The Man They Love To Hate'. The latter sadly did not survive in the set beyond the first few dates as the band concluded that it wasn't coming together properly. For my part (as a mere punter with somewhat compromised hearing) it sounded just fine, but then again I would always favour a flawed rarity in the set over a tried and tested 'safe' regular.

'The Man They Love To Hate'
G-Live, Guildford
5th March 2015
(thanks Andy Miller)

Another guest appearance (and again one with a short half-life) was 'Ice', which together with 'Longships', 'The Raven', 'Baroque Bordello', 'Genetix' and 'Duchess' made for the most 'Raven' heavy set played by the band since, well The Raven tour I suppose. Personally I would have thrown in 'Don't Bring Harry' and 'Nuclear Device' for good measure, but hey you can't have it all can you?

The remainder of the set was a well balanced mix of old and new, with a leaning towards old, although 'Norfolk Coast' was reasonably well represented across the tour with 'I've Been Wild', 'Lost Control' as well as the title track included.

One of the gig (and tour highlights) was of course 'Down In The Sewer' which took me back to the gigs in my early 20's when I could be found at the front stripped to the waist leaping about for all I was worth. These days I can manage a sedate bounce and the T-shirt stays on! The song is and always will be the band's finest moment and here it was perfect in all but one respect in that 'Rats Rally' was in need of another couple of loops, as it stood it sounded rather truncated.

Next up for the tour was The Cambridge Corn Exchange. Never a favourite of mine, the venue is badly laid out (especially to a gig goer who likes a pint but has a small bladder!) and can be pretty soulless. But, it is only 25 minutes from home and it was my birthday, so it had to be done. The evening didn't start so well as I nearly entered into a fight with some moron who, despite being only 10 feet from the PA, insisted on having more personal space than a Hollywood A-lister at a premier. He proceed to protect and even extend his safe haven by pushing back into Gunta and I. Harsh words were said, but blows were not exchanged. In the event I was quite comfortable as I knew how to pick my fights, he was a short-arse too, besides which I was also standing next to a recently svelte, six-foot something oil rigger! Any way it was a storm in a tea cup and the bloke was last seen filming 'Golden Brown' before presumably finding more space elsewhere. The rest of the gig was passed very enjoyably indeed.... for Cambridge.

A big gap followed until the excursion north for the Scottish dates, two of which would be firsts for me, namely Aberdeen and Kilmarnock. After uneventful flight (always the best ones I think) we settled into the hire car and headed to the west of the city for breakfast with sometime photographer David Boni before clearing Glasgow with a north easterly bearing towards Falkirk to pick up more playmates. The road to Aberdeen was new to me so it was with great interest that I passed Stirling Castle, The Wallace Monument and the battlefield of Bannockburn, as well as many other conurbations familiar to me only through the Classified Football Results on a Saturday afternoon!

Upon locating the venue, 30 minutes were killed by a walk along the beach. For someone who grew up near Brighton, Aberdeen promenade is rather unfamiliar as it left me wondering at which point did the lowering sky and the angry waves of a grey North Sea actually meet?

'The northern seas are cold......'

...... as indeed are the beaches!

In contrast the warm interior of the Beach Ballroom was most welcome as was a cup of tea and a rich tea biscuit! Musically to hear 'Longships' and 'Nice In Nice' in a soundcheck setting was an additional treat.

The venue itself is certainly worthy of comment. The Beach Ballroom is an art deco ballroom on the sea front famed for its steel sprung dance floor (the bounce of which was not lost on either band or crew). Constructed in 1926 of local granite (no surprises there!) the venue has also played host to The Beatles, Cream and Pink Floyd.

The Beach Ballroom, Aberdeen

The gig itself was a belter, clearly enjoyed by audience and band alike. Jet was not present so set changes were inevitable. One further gem took the form of 'Dead Ringer' which gave Dave Greenfield yet more opportunity to 'croon' during this 'March On' tour, 'Genetix' and 'Four Horsemen' being his other hits!

Next morning I awoke with a head as heavy as the Aberdeen skyline, all thanks to an uncharacteristic journey into the world of shots. The preceding pints of course played no part in creating this malaise I was experiencing. On the journey back to Glasgow those towns of the lower Scottish football leagues passed unnoticed as I tried to sleep off this sambuca and Jägermeister induced pain!

Suitably recovered by early afternoon we returned the hire car and took a shuttle bus back into Glasgow city centre for more of the same. Tonight's gig was to be in Kilmarnock and transportation was well organised with a bus, a Wonkae bus you could call it, to and from the venue. The gig was taking place in another notable venue, the Grand Hall, formerly the town's library and reading room. Along with the Beach Ballroom, give me character venues like these any day over yet another O2 Academy.

'Four Horsemen'
The Grand Hall, Kilmarnock
27th March 2015

The band loved this one again and I have to say that for me this was the gig of my tour.

The following day, with a clearer head than was the case 24 hours previously, I took the advantage of an early walk up Sauchiehall Street since our hotel was on the corner at one end. An address of 518 was my destination, the reason, this is the home of the Royal Highland Fusiliers, this merged regiment incorporated the Royal Scots Fusiliers with whom my Grandfather fought in 1944-45 ( Sauchiehall Street is a long road and 518 was a pretty long way from the hotel, so it was a real disappointment to get there to see a locked grill across the front of the building and an apologetic sign which stated 'It is with regret that we are currently unable to open at weekends'..... oh arse!

Finally, the culmination of this jaunt was also the last night of the tour at the O2 Academy in Glasgow and as for the previous two nights the band delivered a crackling set. The stand out moment tonight was the inclusion of 'Go Buddy Go' in the set, a song about which JJ seems to be quite reticent. Perhaps lyrically the song appears a little dated but nevertheless it remains one of the most potent songs that the band can play live and I hope that we haven't seen the last of it.

Until the summer then....